Non-Fiction Book Review – Oh Myyy!

  • Title: Oh Myyy! There Goes the Internet
  • Author: George Takei
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 09/30/2013

Computers and Social Media is one of the few areas where experience can often be a better claim to expert status than “traditional” education. Takei rightfully claims to be an expert on Social Media, because he is extremely successful. The back of the book describes Takei as “a social media juggernaut with nearly four million fans on Facebook”. His posts not only gain thousands of likes and shares, but due to the exponential nature of social media sharing sites often “go viral”, a media term meaning, “to spread very quickly”, not as is sometimes reported, “to be filled with viruses”.

Yet Takei’s book is not a dry marketing manual aimed at companies who want to sell stuff using social media. Yes, there’s good advice for business people here, and the book would make an excellent textbook, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring.

Takei’s writing is crisp and funny. Despite his background (he and his family were held in American prison camps during World War II – despite being loyal American citizens) – Takei manages to see the humorous side first. This may be why his posts (which often take full advantage of the visual nature of today’s Internet) often spread so far and so fast. Everyone likes to laugh and nearly everyone enjoys a good joke or pun.

Oh Myyy! There Goes the Internet is half advice manual and half memoir – recounting how Takei discovered and “conquered” Social Media. The book is filled with copies of great “meme’s” – those pictural sayings that pop-up over and over on Facebook and are still amusing (for example, Grumpy Cat, various versions of the “Keep Calm…” poster, various updates to the line from the film Fellowship of the Ring, ‘One simply does not walk into Mordor.’) So it’s a quick, and again, funny read. But it’s also full of excellent advice – for example, emphasizing the importance of “engagement” over lecturing the audience.

However, the book also does a simply brilliant job of explaining how Social Media works, especially how Facebook’s experimental “algorithms” work. This makes the book useful as well as amusing to read.

I highly recommend this book!

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Book Review – The Further Adventures of Batman

  • Title: The Further Adventures of Batman
  • Author: Martin H. Greenberg (ed.)
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 02/15/2013

This is an anthology by the king of genre anthologies, Martin H. Greenberg, as such – some of the stories are quite good, others are so-so, and one was really pointless. This collection of fourteen stories has a disappointing line-up of authors.

I also found this book in a box of old paperbacks of mine – and it dates from 1989, and man does it show. Computers built with vacuum tubes and operated with punch cards? It’s unfamthomable! And Batman’s tech should be slightly futuristic not hopelessly out of date. But it wasn’t just the tech that was out of date – several of these stories seemed to be based on the old 60s TV series Batman rather than the comics, and certainly not the Nolan films. It’s both understandable (the book pre-dates the Nolan films by two decades plus) but it also pre-dates many of the more serious events in the history of the Batman comics books and DC comics in general.

These are short stories, a couple of which are novella length, but not graphics. I liked “Death of the Dreammaster”, “Bats” was unique, and “Subway Jack” though gross did a better job of pitting Batman against a reincarnation of Jack the Ripper than I’ve seen before. “The Sound of One Hand Clapping” could have been really good but it fell flat. I couldn’t help but compare Joker’s would-be paramour to Harley Quinn and find her (The Mime) lacking. “Neutral Ground” was cute but seemed pointless – and I always figured that Bruce and Alfred made Batman’s costumes and gadgets. “Batman in Nighttown” seemed totally pointless. “The Batman Memos” was cute and at least was a unique approach to story-telling. “Wise Men of Gotham” – a good mystery. “The Pirates of Millionaires Cove” – not only does the title sound like the title of a Hardy Boys Mystery – it really read like one, predictable outcome and all. “The Origin of the Polarizer” was very much like a 60s TV Batman adventure. “Idol” was really awful. It was terrible and left a bad taste in my mouth that spoiled the whole book. Honestly, it would have been better if the editor had cut the story completely. “Daddy’s Girl” and “Command Performance” both feature Dick Grayson in a starring role, and I liked them both. “Daddy’s Girl” was slightly predictable – and there’s one scene with Batman that should have been a bit more emotional, but both were pretty good.

Overall, one should not search high and low for a copy of this no doubt out-of-print book, even if one is a big Batman fan.